Cape prosecutor's clerk charged

Saturday, May 28, 2005

A clerk in the Cape Girardeau County prosecutor's office was arrested Friday on charges of embezzling funds from the office's victim restitution fund.

Monica Krauss, 36, who had worked in the office for four years, was charged with three counts of forgery and one of stealing $958.69 after an investigation by the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Butler County Prosecuting Attorney Kevin Barbour filed the charges after being appointed Wednesday as special prosecutor by Cape Girardeau County Circuit Judge Ben Lewis.

Krauss took several checks that were submitted by defendants to pay restitution to victims, police said. She then changed the names on some of them and converted them to her own use.

"I was shocked and disappointed," said Morley Swingle, Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney, when he learned Krauss would be charged.

When police confronted Krauss earlier this month, she initially said the checks had been lost, a probable cause statement says. Later that same day, Krauss purchased several money orders to cover the amount she had taken. She made money orders out in the names of the people who had originally paid the restitution.

It was Krauss' job to receive money defendants were required to pay for restitution to their victims. She deposited the money in the bank and disbursed it to appropriate victims.

As a result of this incident, Swingle decided his office needs more checks and balances.

"We have changed our procedures," he said. "Now they will involve three officers."

Under the new rules, the restitution clerk receives the checks, records them and then turns them over to the county treasurer to be deposited. The county auditor will disburse the money to victims.

When Krauss was reached at her home Friday, she declined to comment on the charges or her arrest. She was released after posting $10,000 bond.

Krauss will be arraigned next week, Barbour said.

lcianci@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension

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